LANSING (AP) - A new Michigan law says motorists with at least three unpaid parking tickets could be blocked from renewing their driver’s license.
The law, which starts May 16, drops the current threshold to three tickets from six. If tickets are unpaid, local governments can pass the information to the secretary of state’s office and cause problems at renewal time.
Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said he’s enthusiastic about the new law. The city is owed $3.45 million on 68,674 unpaid parking tickets.
“We have a huge accounts receivable when it comes to unpaid parking tickets. This is a way to collect on charges already accessed without raising taxes or fees,” Sundstrom told The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/HwSToI).
Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Grand Rapids, sponsored the law as a way to help local governments raise money.
“Letting parking tickets stack up can get to be pretty expensive,” he said. “Lowering the number from six to three can help to make sure that it doesn’t get out of hand financially.”
In Detroit, drivers owe $40 million in parking tickets.
Not all cities participate in the program. Birmingham, north of Detroit, has about 100 drivers with at least six unpaid tickets and usually turns them over to a collection agency. City Manager Robert Bruner said the paperwork adds up.
“The effort to compile that list, send it to the (state) and then re-notify them if the tickets are paid would probably take more effort than it’s worth,” he said.
Critics say drivers shouldn’t lose a license over something that doesn’t indicate whether they’re a safe driver.
“I think it goes too far,” Richard Kowalski of Rochester Hills said. “People should be responsible and pay their parking tickets, but to deny you a license for three? There’s too many restrictions put on people today from the federal government on down.”
Besides paying the old tickets, drivers also must pay a $45 fee that goes to the local government, the secretary of state and a fund for juror compensation.
More than 2,400 people had license holds cleared in 2010, raising $108,000, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the secretary of state. About 3,200 were affected in 2011, but the amount of money they paid was not available.
“We don’t have any estimates about how the lower threshold of three parking tickets will affect how many motorists will receive parking holds on their licenses,” Woodhams said.
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